TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Our 8 On Your Side investigation of “Storefronts for Sex” in Tampa has taken another twist.
We’ve learned one of the massage spas that has been in the crosshairs of Tampa’s City Council, sits on property owned by none other than Tampa’s Chairman of the Code Enforcement Board and former city council candidate Rick Barcena.
When we went to Barcena’s real estate office on Wednesday to ask about his unlikely tenants, he refused to answer our questions, but his attorney, Anthony Arena sent us a statement: “Please understand that Mr. Barcena will not tolerate illegal conduct on his properties,” Arena writes.
In 2016, following several citizen complaints of alleged prostitution, an undercover Tampa police officer visited Kim’s Spa on Barcena’s property at 3441 W. Kennedy Blvd. and said a masseuse offered him sex for money, but no arrest was ever made.
Barcena’s lawyer insists he tried to evict the owner of Kim’s Spa after receiving a “racketeering” letter from the city. “Indeed, acting upon the Tampa Police Department’s letter resulted in Mr. Barcena spending money on legal services for an eviction that could not be pursued legally,” Arena said.
After the 2016 investigation, Kim’s Spa changed its name to FL Bay Spa, but security is still tight. The inner doors are locked, surveillance cameras are in view and workers still refuse to answer the bell when 8 On Your Side shows up.
Tampa City Council members are trying to rework the city’s old bathhouse ordinance for a citywide crackdown on prostitution in massage spas. The City Attorney’s Office will present a draft ordinance to the city council December 7.